|water play in Austria - simple but effective
I think there are so many variations - most seem to have a nature theme to them, space for role-play and space to explore - but I still think the vital component is the adults. Its what we do with the outdoor environment that will really make it meaningful. Yes, the children need time to explore in their own way - but they also need adult scaffolding. I remember reading about free-play often being the time when bullies can be more active (will look that one up again) so our presence and involvement is important. I think that often the outdoors is not used as effectively as the indoors by teachers - its like break time - the children run free. Not saying this of all places - but I just think the outdoor learning arena has not yet reached its full potential.
|sometimes it is enough with some natural elements to experiment with
|mud kitchen in one of Stockholm's play areas
Now for a few links to sites and pdf's that have great inspirational photos and information/research about playing outdoors.
Beacon Rise Primary School, just outside Bristol - play area at Beacon Rise Primary School
Here is a great site with lots of photos of play areas - so take the time to scroll down naturalplay
Another useful document -from Australia
Young Children and Nature: Outdoor Play and Development, Experiences Fostering Environmental Consciousness, And the Implications on Playground Design
Ashley Parsons (no photographs)
Early Years Outdoor Learning - a tool kit
Well that is it from me today - I will be returning to outdoor environments again - and I will take a more Swedish focus next time...